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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

MPs row over constitution team

Parliament of Ghana
Parliament of Ghana

A list of 17 Members of Parliament (MPs), including some of the most prominent names in the House, was yesterday unanimously rejected on the floor of the House when it was presented as the body to factor Parliament's views into the work of the Constitution Review Committee (CRC).

It was rejected on the basis that it did not include representatives from the Convention People's Party (CPP) and the People's National Convention (PNC) and also that all but two of the 17 MPs who were on the list were lawyers, a situation described by one MP as "ndt professionally balanced".

During the debate which preceded the rejection of the list, the MP for Juaboso, Mr Sampson Ahi, said it was unfortunate that all but two of the MPs who had been selected to form the committee were lawyers who occupied the front benches of the Majority and the Minority sides.

“Madam Speaker, the House is not made up of only lawyers. There are also teachers, farmers, economists and other professionals whose views should be reflected in its submission. The list is not professionally balanced," he argued.

The two non-lawyers on the list were the Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, and Hajia Rafatu Halutie Dubie, NDC MP for Sissala East and a Minister of State.

The lawyers on the list include Mr Cletus Avoka, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, Mr Alfred Agbesi, Mr Emmanuel Bandua, Mr Ebo Barton-Odro, Alhaji Abukari Sumani, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh and Mr Alban Bagbin, all from the Majority side.

The rest are Mr Ambrose Dery, Prof Aaron Michael Oquaye, Papa Owu8u-Ankomah, Mr Joe Ghartey, Mr William Ofori Boafo, Mr Osei Kwame Prempeh and Ms Esther Obeng-Dappah, all NPP members in the House.

Soon after. the Majority Leader, Mr Cletus Avoka, had moved the motion for the list to be accepted by the House, which was seconded by Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the sole Convention People's Party (CPP) MP for Jomoro, Ms Samia Nkrumah, intervened and argued for the inclusion of CPP and PNC MPs on the committee.

She argued that since the country was practising multi-party democracy and members were not made up of only NDC and NPP MPs, the other parties should be represented on the committee.

Her comments resulted in a long debate, after which the Speaker, Mrs. Joyce Bamford-Addo, ruled that the committee should reflect the various shades of opinion in the House, as stipulated by Order 154 of its standing orders.

The PNC MP for Sissala West, Mt Haruna Bayirga, who supported Ms Nkrumah's argument, expressed worry over the situation, adding that it was a calculated attempt by the NDC and the NPP to "swallow" MPs from the smaller parties in the House.

"Don't swallow us. If you do so, we will get stuck in your throats," he said, amid hilarious laughter from both sides of the House and the public and press galleries.

The Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr Bagbin, supported the argument that MPs from the smaller parties be included on the committee, arguing that the committee should be structured in a manner as to also ipclude a representative of the four independent MPs in the House.

He stated that even though CPP and PNC MPs were few, they had large numbers of constituents outside the House whose views should be included in any submissions that would be made to the eRC.

For her part, the MP for Tema West, Mrs Irene Naa Torshie Addo. argued that the youth, as well as women, should have more representatives on the committee, instead of the present membership which had everyone being born before independence.

Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

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